Without a Place to Lay Their Heads
Yesterday I went downtown with the community at our church which ministers to the homeless, whom we call VIP's. I can't say that I get out there as much as I should, maybe 3-4 times a year. We pulled up to a shelter known as The Bunkhouse, where a line of 70 or so people where waiting for food that was being passed out. The Bunkhouse is located on the Southeast quadrant of downtown, which is the predominate gathering place for the city's homeless population. As I got off the bus and looked into the faces of these individuals, I reflected on the rhetoric I hear whenever the politics of the homeless comes up. The city has a homeless czar who is supposedly charged with helping to remedy "the problem". All I could think was that these are people man, THESE ARE PEOPLE. And what is even worse is that many call the City Hall their residence, as they sleep on the lawn there after hours and on the weekend. So when they ask "what do we do?" my response would be, "you could start by walking out the front door and talking to people." I invited individuals in line to church where we would allow them to hear a word and receive a hot meal. But again, the eyes were speaking to me louder than any voice that I heard. Sixty-five to seventy percent of those waiting for a meal were Black Men. To add the number of black men potentially living on the streets to those who we know are in prison, the situation becomes even more dire to say the least. The eyes spoke of wanting to get out of a situation, but not knowing how, or not willing to take the chance. God must be praised for those who go every week to speak positive words into the lives of these souls, who somehow through it all allow themselves an occasional smile or even a laugh. I saw men and women were loading their personal cars with folks from the line, taking them to their place of worship. I can't say what the answer is, but it must include mental help for a community who is much more likely to affected by phychological disorders than the general population. Until then, the contributions of individuals are invaluable as the city focuses on it's other priorities. The city has a homeless shelter scheduled to open in the next year or so. As the decision is made where the shelter will be built, council people are playing a game of "Not In My District." But if dollars is an indication of priority, then what does it say when the Animal Shelter was allocated more funding that the Homeless Shelter? I think you know.